By Etuka Sunday
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has given a seven-day ultimatum to the federal government and investors in the power sector to settle issues regarding the welfare of workers of the former Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN).
The Union threatened prolonged electricity blackout especially in the Southern part of the country if government fails to meet up with NLC demands at the expiration of ultimatum next week Friday.
Rising from the meeting with the officials of the Nigeria Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE) held in Akure at the weekend, NLC said government should address the issues raised prior to the ultimatum in order to guarantee industrial peace and harmony in the power sector.
The meeting was attended by NLC Executives from 14 states in the southwest, south south, Kwara and Kogi states who were on ground to deliberate on issues relating to the working condition of members, mostly those disengaged by the new owners.
A communique issued at the end of the meeting which was read by the Chairperson of NLC in Ondo state, Mrs. Bosede Daramola also frowned at the epileptic power supply in the country.
It lamented the alleged exploitation of the masses by the buyers of the electricity distribution companies.
Besides, the workers said the ongoing actions of the new investors to de-unionized workers of the sector were unacceptable, calling on the federal government to caution the investors.
Part of the Communique reads; “ The meeting in session condemn in strong terms the victimization of labour leaders and the failure of the federal government to call the investors in the power sector to order in tandem with the tripartite agreement reached with the organised labour on January 13 so as to promote industrial harmonywhich is key to our national productivity”.
“The meeting in session called on the federal government and all the companies to as a matter of national interest, for a prosperous economy, address all the issues canvassed within seven days from the date of this communique in order to guarantee industrial peace and harmony in the power sector as the labour movement will resist any attempt to buckanise the movement by either individual or group in whatever disguise or name.
“That the labour movement should not be held responsible for any action taken to drive home their demands if the government fails to address the issues after the expiration of the seven-day ultimatum”.
The General Secretary of NUEE, Comrade Joe Ajero, said the investors in the power sector had been making life miserable for members of the union.
Ajero, who spoke through the Central Executive Committee member, Benson Okorodudu, said the investors had been trying thei best to ensure that the workers do not have a voice in the society.
He said those that had laboured to keep the system going and agreed with government on the privatisation were being made to suffer as their entitlements were not paid to them.
Recall, the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Nigerian Electricity Liability Management Company (NELMCO), Dr. Sam Agbogun recently attributed the delay in the payment of pension allowances for the severed staff of the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) to inadequate budget.
Dr. Sam Agbogun said about N1.3 billion was required monthly for the payment, while N16 billion was needed annually for the same purpose. He however, expressed concerned that only N14 billion was quoted in the 2014 budget recently approved by the National Assembly for the payment of the pension instead of the N16 billion required, leaving a shortfall of N2 billion.
“On a monthly basis, our average pension is around N1.3bn, in fact in February it was N1.29bn; at N1.3bn, what we have yearly is about 16bn on average. “What is on the budget this year is 14bn, so we are sourcing more for N2bn, and that is to say if we stick by the budget, by the end of November we would have finished it,” he said.